I had an opportunity recently to interview Diane Darling from Effective Networking and wanted to pass along what I learned from her. I also watched a video from a presentation she made to the Salty Legs Networking Group, so I have also incorporated her advice from that as well.

To me, one of the most valuable things that Diane said was her definition of Networking: Building of relationships before you need them. I think this is a great definition, as many people (including myself) build up their network during a job search, and then stop being in contact with their network once they have a job.  This definition encourages people to continue networking even when they are not looking for a job.

Communication

Communication chartMost of us have heard that your body language and HOW you actually say something are more important than the words you use.  But, Diane shared the numbers behind that information, which really brought the point home for me.  Based on these numbers, “every time you send an email, you forfeit 93% of your communication”.  Wow!  I do tend to use email a lot, as it’s easier and faster, but think I should start to reconsider that.  When you talk on the phone, you’re still only getting 45% of the communication.

Another tip Diane gave was when you are calling someone at the recommendation of someone else, start with the connection first.  So, “Susan suggested I call you about working in Marketing at your company.  My name is Rachel Levy.”  As opposed to “This is Rachel Levy…. ”  It’s easier for the person to hear it that way first to connect the dots in their head.

What is a network?

Diane also described that everyone should look at their entire database of contacts in the following format:Networking groups

  • Database – Everyone in all of your contact databases (email, LinkedIn, personal address book, Twitter, etc.).
  • Network – These are the people who would return your phone calls!  They’re people you are in touch with and you trust.  Based on statistics, this group shouldn’t be more than 200-250 people, as after that amount, it’s more difficult to stay in touch with people.
  • Inner Circle – People you could go to to ask their advice about what they think you should be doing for a living.  Diane actually surveyed her Inner Circle with 4-5 questions about this, including asking them what her strengths and weaknesses are.  Great idea!
  • Personal Board of Advisers (PBA) – These are the people who should champion you in your life.  It’s like a Board of Directors, but for you, rather than for a company.  You should have about 4-5 people on your PBA each year.
  • Friends, Family or Fools (FFF) – This is an obvious group… and Diane says “These people have to like you”!!

Each of these groups should be looked at in a different way and used for different purposes.  Not everyone in your database should be called for a networking meeting.

Tips for attending networking events or job fairs

The most important thing you can do for a job fair is to have a plan of what you want to achieve before you go.  Many people have a goal of “collecting x number of business cards”, but these aren’t necessarily meaningful connections for you.  You should decide ahead of time who the companies are that you want to work for, and find them, or find people who know someone who works at that company.

Obviously you should bring business cards with you.  Diane suggests printing your skills on the back of your card.  I do something slightly different, where I show what type of position I’m looking for: “Marketing professional seeking a position where I will be able to make an impact in my areas of strength of social media, branding, strategy, advertising and online marketing.” I think both methods help the person remember who you are after meeting you.  Also on your card, you should add your website address and an email address that is professional or represents you.  Do not include your home address on your card (oops, I guess I need to reprint my cards!).  I would also suggest adding your LinkedIn profile address and your Twitter ID to your card.

Give people you meet 3 bullets about you and what you’re looking for. Be clear and concise, so they can remember what you said.

Small notebookOne of the parts of networking that I personally find the most difficult is how to end a conversation.  Diane suggests something simple like “It was great seeing you.  I look forward to crossing paths again.”

Bring a small notebook with you to take down your follow-up notes, and send everyone you met an email after the event.  Categorize the people you met into the following groups:

A – Action – need to connect them with someone

B – Want to have coffee with

C – Whenever/If Ever – Nice conversation, but no immediate need to connect with them

Random Thoughts

The rest of this post includes some miscellaneous insights Diane said that I wanted to pass on!

  • If you’re looking for a job, say you’re looking for a job — don’t just say you’re networking.
  • Be careful not to act like this when networking… “you’re not important, but your Rolodex rocks”.
  • If you’re out of practice with networking, talk to people where it’s unlikely that anything would happen from the meeting… “learn on a junky car, not a Porche”.
  • If the person says their company is not hiring, you can say “I might know someone in your network that I can help you with” or “I’d like to understand your business, maybe there are some ideas I can come up with” or simply “Thank you”.
  • Network with job searchers because they are “in the know” about open jobs.
  • Email isn’t bad, just don’t get dependent on it.
  • You need to be involved in Social Media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) as it shows you’re relevant today.  But, it should be the beginning of the conversation, not where you should stop.  Diane calls this “hybrid networking”, where you use the online and the offline together.  For example you meet someone online, and then go have have coffee with them.  What I described in my “Using Social Media in a Job Search” post about Diane Hessan is a good example of this.
  • “Before Google, there was gossip.  Now you have a role in creating your reputation.”  You can really see who people are online, and how they behave as a person.

My own personal advice is “JUST ASK”… ask anyone and everyone you want to network with if they will network with you! The worst that can happen is that they say no.  I recently attended a panel session with CMO’s of Boston area companies.  I didn’t meet them personally (except for Diane Hessan), but found their contact information and made arrangements to meet with them.  I have sought out people on Twitter who work for companies that interest me, and just asked if they would meet with me.  Most people are very open to it if they have the time.

What do you think of Diane’s tips and my thoughts?  Anything else to add about networking?

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    • http://twitter.com/dpriemer David Priemer

      Great post Rachel. Indeed I agree with Diane’s approach. The challenge in this type of economy is that many people find themselves in a “reactionary” position, developing a rewarding career one moment, and then ‘sans employment’ the next. Summoning a network of trusted advisers, but also understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses, in short order can be tough so it certainly makes sense to plan ahead (kind of like getting a line of credit at the bank when you don’t need it yet).

      People’s expectations in terms of job opportunities are still high and their willingness to understand the unique skills they bring to the market is just as great. That’s why what Diane alludes to in her explanations of the “inner circle” and PBA is so key. This is, understanding how others see your strengths and weaknesses and the potential opportunities their feedback can help direct you to.

      Now more than ever, getting *useful* feedback from your network of coworkers, friends, managers, and even clients, is super-important. What many have found though is that getting that type of valuable feedback via traditional means (i.e. face-to-face, email, manager reviews) can be a challenge for a number of social and cultural reasons. That’s why we created a service called Rypple. Out of total respect for the sanctity of your blog, I don’t want to turn it into a commercial for us, but if anyone is interesting in learning more, check out our site and feel free to ping me at any time.

      Regardless of the mechanism you use, effectively leveraging your network and networking activities to get you meaningful feedback and insight is the name of the game!

      Thanks for the post!

      P.S. – if we only had to rely on feedback from the ‘FFF types’, my mother alone would have catapulted me into the White House long ago :)

    • http://twitter.com/dpriemer David Priemer

      Great post Rachel. Indeed I agree with Diane’s approach. The challenge in this type of economy is that many people find themselves in a “reactionary” position, developing a rewarding career one moment, and then ‘sans employment’ the next. Summoning a network of trusted advisers, but also understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses, in short order can be tough so it certainly makes sense to plan ahead (kind of like getting a line of credit at the bank when you don’t need it yet).

      People’s expectations in terms of job opportunities are still high and their willingness to understand the unique skills they bring to the market is just as great. That’s why what Diane alludes to in her explanations of the “inner circle” and PBA is so key. This is, understanding how others see your strengths and weaknesses and the potential opportunities their feedback can help direct you to.

      Now more than ever, getting *useful* feedback from your network of coworkers, friends, managers, and even clients, is super-important. What many have found though is that getting that type of valuable feedback via traditional means (i.e. face-to-face, email, manager reviews) can be a challenge for a number of social and cultural reasons. That’s why we created a service called Rypple. Out of total respect for the sanctity of your blog, I don’t want to turn it into a commercial for us, but if anyone is interesting in learning more, check out our site and feel free to ping me at any time.

      Regardless of the mechanism you use, effectively leveraging your network and networking activities to get you meaningful feedback and insight is the name of the game!

      Thanks for the post!

      P.S. – if we only had to rely on feedback from the ‘FFF types’, my mother alone would have catapulted me into the White House long ago :)

    • http://twitter.com/pinkolivefamily Susan

      Rachel,

      This is an excellent post outlining your interview with Diane Darling. Great content overall re: Networking strategies to share with everyone. I was happy to have her for our Boston Salty Legs Career Club Guest Speakers event in January ’09. I do like her thoughts on “hybrid networking” along with advises on having a personal advisory board throughout your career. I hope and wish for all of our members at Boston Salty Legs Career Club to utilize our meetings to do just that – to approach all members as their own “personal advisory” board and share thoughts and resources. Great job on this post! I have tweeted and shared thumbs up on Facebook.

      Love this quote from you ~ “Before Google, there was gossip. Now you have a role in creating your reputation.” You can really see who people are online, and how they behave as a person. I concur with this and we hope to continue and explore “branding” as a topic of conversation near future. Look forward to hearing from Dan Schawbel who will be speaking for our club in March on “personal branding”.

      As for Diane: I understand from Diane directly that she is the recipient for CWE award this year and I root for her success as well. From what I hear, she definitely deserves this adulation at this time.

      Thanks for this post Rachel.

      Best!

      Susan
      Reference to: CWE & Boston Salty Legs Career Club

      CWE: Center for Women & Enterprise
      http://www.cweboston.org/

      Boston Salty Legs Career Club
      http://sites.google.com/site/saltylegscareerclub/Home

      Dan Schawbel
      http://personalbrandingblog.wordpress.com/danschawbel/

      Susan’s last blog post..PinkOliveFamily: just spoke to someone from Right Mgmt – hmm. wonder if they are on twitter ;P

      • http://www.rachel-levy.com Rachel Levy

        Thanks for your comment Susan! Just for the record, the comment about gossip came from Diane… I LOVE that comment, but I want to give credit where credit is due!

        -Rachel-

    • http://twitter.com/pinkolivefamily Susan

      Rachel,

      This is an excellent post outlining your interview with Diane Darling. Great content overall re: Networking strategies to share with everyone. I was happy to have her for our Boston Salty Legs Career Club Guest Speakers event in January ’09. I do like her thoughts on “hybrid networking” along with advises on having a personal advisory board throughout your career. I hope and wish for all of our members at Boston Salty Legs Career Club to utilize our meetings to do just that – to approach all members as their own “personal advisory” board and share thoughts and resources. Great job on this post! I have tweeted and shared thumbs up on Facebook.

      Love this quote from you ~ “Before Google, there was gossip. Now you have a role in creating your reputation.” You can really see who people are online, and how they behave as a person. I concur with this and we hope to continue and explore “branding” as a topic of conversation near future. Look forward to hearing from Dan Schawbel who will be speaking for our club in March on “personal branding”.

      As for Diane: I understand from Diane directly that she is the recipient for CWE award this year and I root for her success as well. From what I hear, she definitely deserves this adulation at this time.

      Thanks for this post Rachel.

      Best!

      Susan
      Reference to: CWE & Boston Salty Legs Career Club

      CWE: Center for Women & Enterprise
      http://www.cweboston.org/

      Boston Salty Legs Career Club
      http://sites.google.com/site/saltylegscareerclub/Home

      Dan Schawbel
      http://personalbrandingblog.wordpress.com/danschawbel/

      Susan’s last blog post..PinkOliveFamily: just spoke to someone from Right Mgmt – hmm. wonder if they are on twitter ;P

      • Rachel Levy

        Thanks for your comment Susan! Just for the record, the comment about gossip came from Diane… I LOVE that comment, but I want to give credit where credit is due!

        -Rachel-

    • http://www.rachel-levy.com Rachel Levy

      Seesmic video reply from Disqus.

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    • http://peterpappas.blogs.com/ peterpappas

      Thanks for your recommendations. I’ve been on Twitter for about 3 months trying to become acculturated and aware of how to use the tools.

      This weekend I felt ready to launch my first Twitter experience – “How to Stay Home and Use Twitter Tools to Network a Major Conference”
      I figured out how to network at the ASCD 09 conference remotely with Twitter tools and a live Word Cloud.
      See how it’s working and how to: http://tinyurl.com/d9qgqg
      I’ve made great contacts and expanded my personal network.

    • http://edteck Peter Pappas

      Thanks for your recommendations. I’ve been on Twitter for about 3 months trying to become acculturated and aware of how to use the tools.

      This weekend I felt ready to launch my first Twitter experience – “How to Stay Home and Use Twitter Tools to Network a Major Conference”
      I figured out how to network at the ASCD 09 conference remotely with Twitter tools and a live Word Cloud.
      See how it’s working and how to: http://tinyurl.com/d9qgqg
      I’ve made great contacts and expanded my personal network.

    • http://twitter.com/cassie_wallace Cassie Wallace

      Great post – I agree that extending communication beyond ubiquitous electronic means can really help your cause.

      However, I disagree that you “lose” 93% of your communication in email and 45% on the phone – instead, the person on the other end is going to use different means to judge your communication. I'd be interested to learn how word choice, email signatures, etc., fall into perception of email communication.